Speaker takes big tree from Opposition leader
TORONTO - Size matters, at least when it comes to Ontario politicians and their Christmas trees.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak went on a search after a two-metre-tall balsam fir that was outside his office Monday was replaced with one about half that size.
"We had a beautiful tree, but all of a sudden it had mysteriously walked away," Hudak said Tuesday as his staff handed out stickers with the banner "free Tim's tree" above a picture of a colourfully lit tree.
"It was replaced with one that looks a bit more like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree."
Turns out Speaker Steve Peters felt the tree for his office wasn't large enough, so he sent staff out to get a bigger one, which they found outside Hudak's third floor office.
"The Speaker's apartment tree wasn't quite large enough and the closest tree that was located was found on the third floor," said a stone-faced Peters, tongue firmly in cheek.
"It was brought to my attention that that was the tree that belonged to one of the honourable members, and I sincerely apologize for that happening."
Peters said he wanted a tree "that was big enough to reflect the size of his house" -- the speaker gets an apartment inside the historic Ontario legislature building.
"The Speaker wanted to have the tallest Christmas tree in the building," admitted Peters, referring to himself in the third person.
"Size was important to the Speaker."
Hudak agreed on the importance of size, at least on the tree issue.
"I haven't had that kind of conversation with the Speaker about the size of his Christmas tree," joked Hudak.
"From time to time size does matter when it comes to Christmas trees."
Enough Christmas trees were delivered to the legislature for every member to put one in or outside their office, said Peters, who added Hudak was free to pick out a new one more to his liking.
"Any member who is concerned about the size of their Christmas tree may go out and review the trees we have available," he said.
"I will ensure it is a Christmas tree that is no taller than anyone else's in the building."
To add to the insult, even the smaller tree that appeared Tuesday morning was removed from outside Hudak's office while he was complaining to reporters about the first one "walking away."
By the end of the day, Peters still had Hudak's original tree decorated in the Speaker's office, but a new, very large tree was installed outside Hudak's office, ending the great tree tale.